After all the craziness of the first couple months of Lucy’s life, we began plans to get her baptized. We picked a date, we picked Godparents, and we got the paperwork in. With all the planning of the event, the true meaning of it all got lost. In terms of the actual sacrament, my immediate thinking was that we “had to” get Lucy baptized because that’s what Catholics do, they baptize their children.
Before we could get her baptized, our church required us to go to a meeting about baptism. At first I thought the meeting would be silly, Zach and I knew what baptism was. Lucy was becoming an official member of the church and the priest was washing away her original sin. Yada, yada, we knew the spiel.
To my surprise, the meeting turned out to be meaningful. It was an hour out of our lives to reflect on what it was we were actually doing for Lucy. We needed this break. We were reflecting on our personal reasons to baptize her not because of the technical“rules” of the church. We wanted our child baptized because we want for Lucy what we had. Zach and I both had positive experiences growing up in the Catholic church. We were both involved in our communities and frequented Sunday masses with our families. I always admired the priest in my parish, Father Himsworth. He was a kind man who was good to my family over the years. Even after he retired, I kept in touch with him through letters. Zach told me he volunteered for years at his church, opening it up for early morning masses and leading classes for kids. Our church communities were extended family. Because of my schooling, as a teenager and a young adult, I developed close relationships with members of the Sisters of St. Joseph, a group of women who I can’t say enough good things about. My aunt Karen is a prominent member of the order. They are a group who showed immense support when Lucy was first born and had her medical scares.
Sitting in this meeting allowed Zach and I to be reminded of how much we enjoyed being involved. I have been saying for a few years, “We need to go to church more. We need to get more involved in the community.” It’s been an empty sentiment on my part. I want to, but I haven’t put forth the effort. Why? I really don’t know. Even though we had such positive experiences growing up, I think we’ve allowed the current church climate to affect us. “Positive” isn’t a word used often to describe the church in today’s world. What with scandals coming out so often about disgraceful behavior from hierarchy, it’s easy to fall away or lose faith. It’s easy to be afraid. And I also think it’s as simple as life getting in the way. Poor excuses, but it’s true. Despite the darkness in the world and the hectic nature of life, sweet Lucy has brought us back to our roots.
The deacon who baptized Lucy is a nice guy. He’s one of the good ones who can often be overlooked amidst the darknesses in the church. He baptized Lucy and one other baby that day. In his opening, he spoke about how we live in a broken world. That’s just the truth. I appreciated his candor. Sadly, the truth is hard to come by in society today and it’s refreshing when someone is strong enough to be honest. We do live in a broken world. But he pointed out that babies don’t know that yet. Babies are so pure and unaware of sadness and hardships. Our job as parents is to provide a happy environment and share the good.
I was struck by this. It’s so obvious, but I hadn’t given it much thought. One of the most important of our responsibilities as parents is simple, show Lucy all the good life has to offer. Sure, she will learn about the bad stuff and try as we might there is nothing we can do to stop her from experiencing that, except be there for her and guide her. By having her join the church, we are providing her the opportunity to join a loving community that will allow her to feel safe and grow in faith. We are having her join an extended family that can help us reinforce a positive environment. Thankfully, the church we belong to is a great place. And, as I said above, we have a unique connection with the SSJ who are also affiliated with our church. The religious in the community are wonderful people and truly care about the families. I have been a member there a long time and our niece and nephews attend the parish school. It’s a small community, which makes it easy to get to know everyone. It reminds me a great deal of the parish I grew up in. It feels like home and our hope is Lucy will find comfort in that feeling as well.
When we went up to the baptismal font, I held Lucy and Zach stood beside me. I looked out at our families gathered in front of us. It was one of those “I feel like a grown up” moments. I told my mom this after the fact and she said, “That made you feel like a grown up? The whole giving birth to a human thing didn’t make you grow up?”
Lucy was hilarious of course, she screamed when the deacon motioned to come near her and calmed down as soon as he backed away.
I glanced over at her Godparents, my oldest brother John and Zach’s sister Sarah. I saw the pride they each held in their smiles for their new titles. I was reminded of the significance of Godparents. To me a Godparent is a special mentor for life. My Godmother is my aunt Tracey and my Godfather is my cousin Johnny. I was grateful they were able to join us celebrate that day. I’m 31 years old and they are still showing up for me and I am still leaning on them for support. Both of them were also there for us when Lucy was in the hospital. Without question, they showed up to support us. I don’t know many people who can still say their Godparents play an essential role in their lives.
Like me, Lucy is blessed to have many loved ones ready to support her at any moment, but I hope she develops this special connection with her Godparents. My hope is when she experiences the ups and downs, if she feels she can’t come to me or Zach, that she can go to John or Sarah. I know she will because they are two people Zach and I feel we can personally count on. I was also reminded of what my own role is as a Godparent to my niece Grace. I know I could step it up and be more present to Grace, even in small ways like checking in on her more often. In this fleeting moment of reflection, I allowed myself to be immersed in the true meaning of baptism: family, love, human connection. (Side note, Zach and I were blessed to be asked to be the Godparents of our sweet niece Holly. My little “God family” is growing!)
If anything, you all know from other posts that I have doubted more than I have believed over the last few years. The journey of doubt and renewal is one most of us find ourselves on. It is essential to personal growth in my opinion. Life changing events have the power to take us away or bring us back to faith. I lived a charmed life up until I had some bumps in the road. How many people can say that? 29 years without encountering a serious hardship. I allowed my miscarriages to pull me away from faith. I allowed the hardship to bring me down. Lucy has brought me back. She has lifted me up, lifted us up. Her arrival was perfect timing. I believe when we are at our lowest if we try hard enough to keep our heads up, something life changing does come around to lift us up again.
[Actually, to be exact, it felt like she lifted us up the day she was born, she had seizures and then we were taken down again from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, and then she got better and we were rejuvenated once more. Writing it out that way, her entrance into our lives really was completely insane. We are beyond blessed it has all worked out in her favor.]
Lucy has done so much for us and our families since she arrived. Restoring our faith is one of the major things. Our faith in God and our faith in each other is at an all time high. She has helped me restore my faith in myself too. I had no idea, but apparently I have intuition. The way I respond to her and I am somehow able to understand what she needs amazes me. She and I have an indescribable connection. I hate to be cliché, but I really have never known love like this before. Sometimes it’s a bit too strong. Some days she doesn’t let me move more than five feet from her. But that’s okay, even though it can be exasperating. As long as it fades by the time she goes to school. She won’t get any dates with her mom hanging around her all the time.
She has brought forth a side of myself that I didn’t know was in there. She has helped me feel a pride and a self confidence in myself that I had been lacking for some time. Lucy has helped us rediscover the good in the world, the simple joys life has to offer every day.
We all have our struggles, but it is important to find something that rejuvenates us. Rejuvenation, it is key for the soul.